Simpsons Feud
February 6, 2000 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Did anyone watch the Simpsons Sunday night? Did you notice how bad it sucked? Maybe it was on purpose, as a response to the feud going on between the show's writers and the newsgroup.
posted by jkottke (18 comments total)
for me, it was when the marge actually asked the crowd if anyone cared what comic-book-store-guy thought and the crowd bellowed a resounding "no!" hrrrm.
posted by jburr at 10:23 PM on February 6, 2000

I think that ATS poster is right on, the episode was so cartoon wacky, the subplots were blatantly tacked on, and everything the CBG did (like mentioning a previous episode's activities) went along with the writers pulling a fast one on their hardcore fans. Just when you think the Simpsons writers don't have it anymore, they go pull something like this. Hilarious.
posted by mathowie at 11:11 PM on February 6, 2000

This episode was a masterstroke...we've known all along that 'The Simpsons' has evolved beyond just the satirization of the American family; any social arena is ripe for picking. The ATS posters must have forgotten that they, too, are potential targets, for what social arena today is more prevalent (and to some extent, worthy of lambasting) than Internet culture?
posted by scottandrew at 6:44 AM on February 7, 2000

Yes, the episode was bad. But the previews of next week show a coffin being lowered into the ground. Is this the end for Maude Flanders?! Guess will have to tune in to find out and that's the point, isn't it.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2000

We know that the writers know that last night’s episode of The Simpsons was supposed to be crappy and that’s what makes it funny, right? We made the astute observation that the writers for The Simpsons would never produce an episode so monumentally bad on accident. Let us gloat at our shrewd Simpsons watching abilities.

But wait a minute. Did anyone actually enjoy Furious D, Lisa’s letter–writing campaign to the President, or the evil pixie song from mushroomland? Now don’t get me wrong— I’m certainly grateful to the show’s creators for the thousands of hours of entertainment and I enjoy the so-bad-it’s-good genre as much as the next guy, but I miss when The Simpsons was just plain good.
posted by nicholm at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2000

Right on, Nichol. I think the parody was a good concept, but they missed the's the same shoddy execution that has made some of the shows from the past couple years really quite lame. It could have been a great show, but they messed up.

Or who knows....perhaps this episode is like a Kubrick need to stew a little in the mind before it can be properly appreciated.

Or maybe it was just the worst episode ever.

Either way, you're not going to see another show on television that would have the balls (or the stupidity) to even attempt anything like this.
posted by jkottke at 9:08 AM on February 7, 2000

After the show, I couldn't help but wonder if I would have found it as funny if I hadn't read the article that Matt pointed out last week. Now that Jason has pointed it out, I realize that I didn't really *think* about the main plot *or* the subplot much - for me, the episode was funny because it was a big ol' self parody. Is The Simpsons tired after a decade of episodes? Yeah, it's starting to be. Is it still funnier than a significant percentage of what's on? Yup. I know lots of people really like Futurama, but I don't think it's nearly as solid as The Simpsons, even now.

For my money, any show that takes potshots at its own hardcore fanboys (fangirls|gender nonspecific fandorks) is good television. Frankly I'd love to see a bunch of fangoths get slaughtered on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or have Xena kill a bunch of giggling village boys who are speculating about her relationship to Gabrielle... but that's probably not going to happen, so I'll take what I can get.

When they did the "Worst episode EVER" tag at the end of The Simpsons, I shot milk out my nose. That was a bit disturbing to me, because I wasn't *drinking* milk at the time, but it was certainly an indicator that I found the show funny.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:22 AM on February 7, 2000

Yup, I would never argue that the series has had some episodes that really, really bombed.

But look: the TV landscape is crowded with gentle, happy 'Friends'-like sitcom clones, all designed to keep its target audience comfy while attracting the biggest advertisers to shove their crap at you. In that sense, I think we should be happy that the 'Simpsons' writers have the creative freedom to do an episode like this, whereas any other network would have fired half of their creative staff just for mentioning it.

It's a little like posting your hate mail for everyone to read. Well, in concept anyway. The stakes are higher.
posted by scottandrew at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2000

I keep replaying the CuJo "Milk out the nose, but its not Milk" imagery...
posted by dangerman at 3:07 PM on February 7, 2000

I think y'all are being too generous in saying that the episode sucked on purpose. Certainly the non sequitur Comic Book Guy is a direct swipe at us superfans (crossing the line, if you ask me--the initial "Worst episode ever" dialog in ep 4F12 was far more apt and not as obvious; this was just whiny), but the episode as a whole was about at the level of the rest of this season.

I actually think the ways in which CBG notes how this episode is similar to previous episodes works in this episode's favor. To see Bart care for the horse, as forced and unrealistically motivated as it was, left me pining for episodes such as 4F16 ("The Canine Mutiny," where Bart trades SLH for Laddie via credit card fraud) or even 1F15 ("Bart Gets an Elephant").

Or is the 'intentionally flawed' theory actually referring to the poor imitations of previous episodes, as if to demonstrate via straw man: "You can sit down and watch an episode we did 10 years ago or one we did last year and the characters are still the same." ?


posted by dan_of_brainlog at 4:28 PM on February 7, 2000

(Unless it's supposed to be a troll as that newsgroup post suggests, in which case my only comment is that it could have been a much better troll--still too whiny--and otherwise the writers shouldn't be wasting their time responding to newsgroup posts through the show itself. Phbt!)

posted by dan_of_brainlog at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2000

Hey dan?
Step away from the television.

posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2000

Interesting theories, fellow Springfield residents. I waver between admiration and loathing of this episode. I can appreciate the parody, but parts that seem devoid of parody--as when Homer falls out of the chute and wonders if it's a dream, only to have one of the troll/jockeys open the hatch again and assure him it wasn't--just weren't funny at all. And while appearances by presidents both current and ex- have been brilliantly done in the past, Clinton's dialogue was just plain unfunny. It's tough being on the edge of my seat waiting for something hilarious to come out of his mouth, only to to be let down.

Is it possible last night's Futurama was actually better than The Simpsons??? Wow.
posted by austinspace at 6:27 PM on February 7, 2000

CrazyUncleJoe: NEVER!

posted by dan_of_brainlog at 6:51 PM on February 7, 2000

I haven't watched a full episode of the simpsons this season since 'Homer bowls a 300', which left a very funny taste in my mouth. (and I don't even read

I do think that some of the super fans need to get over themselves. I also thing the writers need to get over themselves too. Like all shows that were once 'the best thing on television', its time has past, and both groups need to realize that. If this Sunday's episode was a 'shut up fanboy', that's pretty damn funny. It's also a sign that the writers don't want to admit that the show's on the decline.

Personally, I can't stand what they've done to lisa's character. If I ever (god forbid) have children, I want one that makes a Shoebox Studio Apartment where Malibu Stacy (aka Barbi) can print her bi-weekly feminist newsletter.

Having Lisa storm upstairs griping 'it's bad enough they're eating all that meat, but do they have to rub my face in it!', and then having a greasy beef patty land on her face is funny.

Having Lisa ask "Is there anything to eat that wasn't gruesomely killed" and Homer answering 'no', isn't.

*shrug* of course, it's just a freaking TV show (-: and despite what others seem to think, Futurama seems to hold some promise, (ROBOT HOUUUUUSEE!)

Like Bart said when Billy Cosby ended The Cosby Show 'If I ever have a hit TV show, I'll run it into the ground'.

posted by alan at 11:32 PM on February 7, 2000

When I worked for a local ISP, we got our share of angry customers. To be honest, the technical service really sucked so they had every right to complain. If I were paying for access to a Web server that crashed every time someone in Sales sneezed, you could be damn sure that I would register my irritation.

The number of fits pitched at the local service provider absolutely paled in comparison with the amount of whining I see in my new job supervising the help queue for a Web site. A site, I might add, that offers its content for free. It amazes me that anyone would complain about something they don't pay for. Christ on a biscuit, if you don't like what we have to offer, then go someplace else!

At the same time, it's amazing to me that the participants on the Simpsons newsgroup have sustained such a gale force of bitching and whining over the past few years regarding the show's quality. If it's that damned annoying, then don't watch the show.

Perhaps frustration is the unifying factor between the crybabies I encounter on my job and the irate Simpsons superfans. Perhaps they realize that, as chronic complainers, they're part of a very small group whose loss won't be missed should they choose to end their frustration and just stop watching/visiting.

Or perhaps they're just assholes. Who knows?

posted by antc at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2000

With regards to fans playing the "stop watching" card, I've concluded that the writers have something of an upper-hand. As dumb as I think the show is, I will continue to watch it in the hopes that it will turn around. I'll probably watch until it's cancelled.

I had long foresaken Saturday Night Live, but am I glad I went back a couple of years ago. They're actually almost cutting edge, now. I never expected such a turn-around.

I don't know the specifics, but the strategies--and perhaps staffing decisions--of the Simpsons' writers seem to change from season to season. There's still hope, but whatever needs to happen won't happen while the writers waste time whining about it.

(Somewhere in the middle of their 6-8 year slump, SNL writers were whining about how hard it was to write something funny *every week*. I wish I could remember my source on this...)

[uhh... must stop posting to Simpsons thread... uhh...]

posted by dan_of_brainlog at 6:04 PM on February 8, 2000

worst episode ever.
posted by pb at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2000

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